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(La dernière heure on Thursday 2 March 2017)

Without the abnegation and the commitment of all voluntary workers, without the persuasion which Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke needed to show in order to convince the RLVB [Belgian Federation] and numerous teams, sometimes not paid for two years, to take part despite everything, after all the financial misery that we know about, the Samyn would probably not have had its 48th edition.

If Hilaire Van der Schueren and Jean-François Bourlart hadn’t given him his last chance contract last winter in Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck would have left the peloton and add his name to the list of eternal big hopes who never match expectations.

Last Wednesday under the storm that swept the routes of the Borinage [that is the region around Fayt-le-Franc, also called “Picardian Wallonia”] the Samyn and Van Keirsbulck found themselves back again for the best after having almost experienced the worst. GVK was known for many years as a huge talent. A winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix, son of Kurt a former pro by the end of the eighties and grandson of Benoni Beheyt, controversial World Champion in Ronse in 1963, he turned pro at age 20 with Quick Step.

He was then predicted as the new Tom Boonen and not just because the two men are physical clone but unfortunately not mentally! [well sometimes Boonen seemed quite erratic to me]

The 2014 season seemed to have finally launched him: he won the Three Days of De Panne, a stage at the Tour of West Flanders and one at the Lowlands Tour after an impressive solo already under rain but yet the rocket didn’t take off.

After that in 2015 I had a hernital disc and stomach problems which kept me away from the peloton for six months.

Most of all in August 2015 GVK had a car crash that sums up pretty well his erring ways which he revelled in. Driving his €115,000 worth Audi RS6 Avant the Flandrian slipped away and knocked into a tree in the streets of Knokke. It was 6am and with his friends he come out of a nightclub. GVK had an 1.8/1000 alcohol level. Not really the optimal buildup for a rider, which his average 2016 season only confirmed.

Last Winter I really trained well and lived up for my job. My girlfriend has helped me a lot for that. I changed team, found the motivation back. I probably needed to do that a year or two earlier even if I had a lot of (too much probably) fun. I have a new trainer, Marc Lamberts, the same as Van Aert and Van den Broeck [if you follow my cyclocross contribution, you’d remember that he had warned Wout Van Aert several times that he was racing too much!;)]It’s the first time I can ride for myself. In the previous years I always had to work at the service of a leader, we also had the pressure to always win. With Wanty Groupe Gobert it’s different. Of course we are fighting for the win but a top10 is already nice. I’m not top yet but it will come. I know it’s only just the Samyn but winning three years after is always pleasant. It will motivate me for the rest.

Christophe Brandt Emotional Let-Down

Christophe Brandt had tears in his eyes. The manager of the WB-Veranclassic-Aqua Protect team long believed in the victory of his rider Alex Kirsch who was leading the sprint until the very last meters of the Samyn before he could see his last opponent Guillaume Van Keirsbulck raising his arms.
Ah it was so close. It’s a real disappointment. From the very start of the race on my riders raced a perfect race. They were in every good breakaways. In the finale Alex did a great trick with Guillaume Van Keirsbulck but the latter won. Hats off to Guillaume for his win. He was the strongest on the finish line. It’s a shame for us, we really were close.

A few minutes after finish, the disappointment took the better of the satisfaction to see his team everywhere since the start of the season.

Yes I’m really disappointed. Mostly for Kirsch who’s been preparing all out for months for this classics’ period. He told us he would be ready for the season opener in Belgium. He is. He was disappointed last Saturday when he crashed at the Omloop. He was in the breakaway in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and he almost won the Samyn, finishing 2nd…I’m really disappointed for him but it’s true that all things considered with Justin Jules’ victory in France, it’s evidence that we recruited very well our new riders, that we took guys with mentality and motivation.

What can we expect from Kirsch for the rest?

He’s got an interesting profile: he’s good on the cobbles but he will be able to be present on small tours and can handle hills

That performance is consolidating Brandt in the opinion that his team had his place on the Tour of Flanders where it hasn’t been invited.
We wish to reply with the pedal and with our results

”An Answer to the Tour of Flanders”

Alex Kirsch:
I thought I could outsprint Guillaume. I made a mistake in starting from too far away. So it’s a disappointment but I don’t regret my race. Last Monday I wrote on a sheet of paper I wanted top5 here! It’s the Walloon opener, so it was very important for our team and we were very disappointed in the team not to have been invited at the Tour of Flanders. We wanted to show that we had our place. It was an answer. I want to keep on performing on our Flandrian races because I like cobbles a lot which suit me very well. I felt strong on the Samyn, it gives me motivation for the rest.

Arrimont Had Fun

Young hope Charlie Arrimont had fun when he attacked in the finale in the group of strong men and the eventual podiumers.
It was the breakaway to take with 10 very good riders. I never managed to do that on a 1-class race. Then I tried to attack in a chase with Sénéchal. I showed up. I’m happy. Unfortunately, there’s no result in the end. This being said, it’s reassuring for the rest.
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